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J Am Chem Soc. 2005 Sep 14;127(36):12677-83.

Stimuli-responsive disassembly of nanoparticle aggregates for light-up colorimetric sensing.

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Department of Chemistry and Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois, 61801, USA.


Controlled assembly of nanomaterials has been the focus of much research. In contrast, controlled disassembly has not received much attention, even though both processes have been shown to be important in biology. By using a Pb2+-dependent RNA-cleaving DNAzyme, we demonstrate here control of the disassembly of gold nanoparticle aggregates in response to Pb2+. In the process, we show that nanoparticle alignment plays an important role in the disassembly process, with the tail-to-tail configuration being the most optimal, probably because of the large steric hindrance of other configurations. The rate of disassembly is significantly accelerated by using small pieces of DNA to invade the cleaved substrate of the DNAzyme. Investigation of such a controlled disassembly process allows the transformation of previously designed "light-down" colorimetric Pb2+ sensors into "light-up" sensors.

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